Making more plastic packaging reusable could make ocean plastic waste history, while drastically reducing the volume of the material going into landfills, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The Forum lays out three scenarios that show how much ocean and landfill plastic waste could be reduced if single-use models of production and consumption were replaced by those which prioritized reuse.
“Currently, 50% of global plastic production is for single use and only 14% of global plastic packaging is collected for recycling,” the WEF says in a release.
In an initial scenario it describes as a “first of its kind framework,” the Forum asserts that “between 10 and 20% of plastic packaging could be reusable by 2030,” enough to reduce annual plastic ocean waste by 45 to 90%.
If reusables made up 20% to 40% of all plastic packaging, annual ocean waste would fall 90 to 185%, while plastics in landfills would decline 25 to 50%.
If 40 to 70% of all the packaging were reusable, plastic ocean waste would become a thing of the past, and plastic landfill waste would be reduced by as much as 85%.
But “any shift towards reusable consumer goods will depend on the choices and actions of the three driving forces of our economy: consumers, the private sector, and the public sector,” said Beth Bovis, global social impact and sustainability project leader at Kearney. “Each of these groups has a unique role to play in making reuse a reality,” at a time when “the need for a more reuse-centred economic model is urgent and grows more so with each passing year.”